Saturday, 16 June 2012

German style (aka I love Berlin)

Berlin Fernsehturm (TV Tower) Berlin traffic lights manLong time no blogs – I’ve been busy preparing for and recovering from a long weekend in Berlin, my second of the year so far. It has to be one of my absolute favourite cities, not least for its awesome party scene (sitting round a campfire watching the sun rise outside a night club will stay with me for a long time). But also, it’s just got this really unique character, which is both weird and wonderful – the city has seen times of affluence and austerity, repression and liberalism, glory and shame. It has streets that wouldn’t look out of place in New York, next to bits that look like a Soviet industrial estate. The green man who tells you to cross the road is wearing a hat.

Walking the streets, you’re struck by the sense of space; the average street is wide enough for about four lanes of traffic, bikes, parking, trees, and of course lots of people sitting outside cafes and bars. There are a ridiculous number of parks too, from kids play areas squidged between two buildings to sprawling woodlands you can easily get lost in. Then there’s the colour. I sort of assumed it would be a very grey city, but it’s one of the most colourful I’ve been in, where the buildings are all sorts of pastel shades and there is graffiti (of varying artistic quality) on every possible surface.

Then you go inside, and you never quite know what to expect. One nightclub I went to (Kater Holzig) was like a squat mixed with a pirate ship, while the one I went to in February was in a former power station, with scary signs and bits of generator still lying around. There are beautifully eclectic and classically cosy bars and restaurants like this one (Sophie’s Neck, weirdest bar name ever), where elements that would look incredibly tacky in a British pub (golden candle sticks and persian rugs) somehow just look good. And in all these cases, it felt so effortless and natural… just let it develop on its own into whatever people want it to be. Very Berlin.

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